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Benefits Glossary

This section has been created to explain some of the more complicated phrases that appear in Housing and Council Tax Benefits. It is laid out in A to Z format for ease of use.

Advance Claims Claims made before liability begins, usually before you move in. Dependant upon your age and the circumstances of your claim, there are varying amounts of time within which you can make a claim in advance.
Affected Person A person to whom a benefit decision relates.
Alternative Maximum Another name for Second Adult Rebate (please see Second Council Tax Benefit Adult Rebate).
Appeals A person who claims benefit has the right to appeal the benefit decision made if they are unhappy with the decision made. There are limitations on the decisions that can be appealed against and appeals should be made within one calendar month of the decision being notified to the claimant.
Applicable Amount The amount of money the Government say an individual or family need to live on per week. The figure is derived from the composition of the household claiming benefit, and the premiums and discounts they are entitled to, based upon their personal circumstances.
Appointees People who act on behalf of someone who has difficulty managing their personal affairs due to illness, disability or age. An appointee takes on the same responsibilities as the claimant would normally adhere to, such as ensuring that changes of circumstance are reported on time.
Assessed Income Figure The amount of income that we base your entitlement to benefit upon. The figure will comprise your earned and unearned income, plus any assumed income derived from your capital assets. The figure will be net of any disregards, deductions, and expenses applicable to your claim.
Assessment Period Relates to claims from self employed persons and reflects the period over which we will work out their earned income figure.
Asylum Seeker An asylum seeker is not entitled to claim Housing and Council Tax Benefit until their application for asylum and refugee status has been heard. Asylum seekers are supported by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS).
Backdating An application for benefit to be awarded for a period of time before the claim was received by the Council. To be awarded backdated benefit you must show good cause as to why you didn’t claim earlier. New rules regarding the maximum period of backdated benefit came into effect on 6 October 2008.
Benefit Week The benefit week starts on a Monday and ends Sunday.
Best Value Best Value was introduced by the Local Government Act 1999, and came into force in April 2000. The aim was to “secure continuous improvement in the way in which (Local Government) functions are exercised, having regard to a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness” (LGA 1999, section 3[1]).
Boarders Persons who reside in accommodation were a charge is made for the provision of some cooked or prepared meals.
Broad Market Rent Areas An area used by the Rent Officer Service to set Local Housing Allowance Rates.
Capital Any money that a person holds within bank or building society account, in shares, property or land (other than the place where they live), investments, or cash, which isn’t for day to day living.
Capital Limits The upper limit for benefit is £16,000. If you have more than this you will not qualify for benefit. The lower limit is £6,000. We will disregard any capital below this amount when calculating your entitlement to benefit.
Change of Circumstance  An increase or decrease in your income, capital or rent, or a change in the composition of your household. Claimants are required to report all changes in their circumstances as soon they become aware of them in order to minimise under and over payments. There are different rules about what changes should be reported to the Council dependant upon whether you are of working or pension age.
Claim Form All applications for Housing and Council Tax Benefit must be preceded by a signed claim form. Without a signed declaration confirming your understanding of your rights and duties your claim will not be considered.
Civil Partnerships A legal union between persons of the same sex.
Conditions of Entitlement A term used to donate whether a person is entitled to Housing and Council Tax Benefit based upon their circumstances.
Couples An arrangement whereby two adults together either as husband and wife or as if they were.
Date of Claim The date that your claim is deemed to have been received by the Council.
Decision The process which results in an outcome to your benefit claim. A decision should be made in respect of your claim within 14 days, or soon as is reasonably possible thereafter, of you providing sufficient information to make a decision.
Decision Notices The letter that tells you about a benefit decision. There are statutory requirements regarding the information that we must give you about the decision we have made.
Dependant A person for whom the claimant is in receipt of Child Benefit.
Defective Claim Any claim for benefit that currently does not provide sufficient evidence and information to allow a decision to be made.
Deprivation of Capital Capital disposed of in order to gain additional benefit.
Discretionary Housing Payments Additional payments made to people who are in receipt of benefit who appear to be in need of additional financial assistance to meet their housing costs.
Disregarded income Types of income not counted towards your assessed income figure, such as disability living allowance.
Earnings Certificate A form used to provide proof of a persons earnings when payslips are unavailable or are insufficient for benefit purposes.
Eligibility for benefit Refers to whether a person meets the qualifications laid down which enable them to claim benefit.
Eligible Rent The proportion of a person’s actual rent upon which the Council can award Housing Benefit.
Evidence Documentary information supplied to substantiate the information given in an application for benefit. There are stringent guidelines regarding the evidence a Council needs to see before it can make an award Housing Benefit. If the evidence required isn’t received the Council, we will decide that the claim doesn’t meet the conditions of entitlement.
Excess Benefit Otherwise known as a Council Tax Benefit overpayment.
Excess Income The amount of assessed income above the applicable amount. This excess is then subject to excess income tapers which will determine your benefit entitlement (subject to non-dependant deductions).
Excluded Persons Persons who are not eligible to claim Housing and Council Tax Benefit based upon their personal circumstances.
Extended Payment A benefit award made after a person has returned to work, or had a change in their circumstances which has resulted in the cessation of Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Severe Disability Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance. An Extended Payment may allow for the award of a further four weeks benefit at the same rate as they were paid at whilst in receipt of the aforementioned benefits.
Fit and Proper Person Refers to a test of the suitability of a landlord to receive benefit payments on behalf of their tenants.
Foster Children Children placed with families which receive an income for their care and accommodation. Such children are not treated as part of the claimant’s household for benefit purposes.
Fraud Housing or Council Tax Benefit that is deliberately obtained when there is no entitlement to it. Fraudulently obtained benefit can result in criminal proceedings.
Good Cause What needs to be demonstrates when a claimant fails to apply at the appropriate time, or appeals a decision late.
Habitual Residency Test A test applied to persons who have recently entered the country to see if they qualify for Housing and Council Tax Benefit.
Household The people deemed to be part of the benefit claimant’s family, upon which we base their applicable amount.
Housing Associations Not for profit companies who act as socially responsible landlords. They also do not pay interest or dividends above a limit set by H.M. Treasury. Housing Associations tenants are not usually subject to restricted rent determinations.
Immigration Control Any person who has less than full rights to work and reside in the UK.
Ineligible services Service charges that are part of your rental charge which we are unable to award Housing Benefit for. Some ineligible services will be valued in accordance with Government prescribed amounts.
Joint Liability Occurs when there is more than one person liable for housing costs. Liability is usually equally apportioned between the liable parties and benefit is based upon the persons share of the liability.
Local Housing Allowance A scheme applicable to certain groups of private tenants only, whereby the maximum amount of Housing Benefit is determined by reference to prescribed rates set by the Rent Officer Service. The applicable rate is decided by adjudging how many rooms the family needs and the location of the property within designated Broad Market Rent Areas.
Minimum Benefit Payable Any Housing Benefit entitlement below 50 pence per week is not paid. There is no similar minimum level for Council Tax Benefit.
Maximum Benefit A term used to refer to persons who will be entitled to full Housing and / or Council Tax Benefit based upon their income circumstances. It does not necessarily follow that the claimant will receive maximum benefit as their benefit maybe subject non-dependant deductions and recovery action.
Mistake of fact or law Decision making errors that occur as a result of a misinterpretation of the law relating to Housing and Council Tax Benefit or of a fact prescient to the claim.
National Insurance Number A unique 9 digit code given to everyone of 16 years who is entitled to work in the United Kingdom. A valid National Insurance Number must be seen in order to claim Housing and Council Tax Benefit.
Negative Inference This is used to decide a defective claim where the claimant has failed to substantiate their claim after being given sufficient chance to do so. Negative inference will usually result in the claimant not meeting the conditions of entitlement.
Non-dependant A person, over 16 years, who lives within the claimant’s household on a non-commercial basis.
Non-Dependant Deduction A deduction taken from the benefit entitlement of the claimant in respect of the income that a non-dependant has.
Maximum Non-Dependant Deduction The largest deduction a Council can take in respect of a non-dependant when either their income exceeds the maximum income threshold or when insufficient proof of their income is provided.
Official Error A decision making error made by the Local Authority or a Government department or agency.
Overpayments of Benefit An amount of benefit paid to someone to which they were not entitled.
Partner A person who lives with the claimant either as husband and wife, or as if they were regardless of gender.
Person from abroad A two stage test of a non-native persons eligibility to claim Housing and Council Tax Benefit.
Premiums Additions made to a persons applicable amount based upon their family’s circumstances.
Proof of identity A prerequisite to claiming Housing and Council Tax Benefit. All claimants, and their partners, must provide sufficient evidence to prove their identity and place of residency.
Reconsideration A request to have a decision looked at again. All claimants have the right to ask for a decision to be reconsidered within one month of it being notified.
Regulations The law which governs the decision making of Housing and Council Tax Benefit.
Rent Allowance The technical term for Housing Benefit awarded to private tenants.
Rent Certificate A form used to provide evidence of your rent liability.
Rent Officer Service An independent body who determine the Local Housing Allowance rates for a Broad Market Area, and who determine restricted rents, and registered / fair rents.
Rent Rebate The technical term for Housing Benefit awarded to Local Authority (Council) tenants.
Restricted Rents Determined by the Rent Officer Service, these are rates that the Council are obliged to use when determining the eligible rent amount appropriate for a Housing Benefit claim.
Request for further information A request made by the Council, in writing, for evidence and information to support a claim for benefit. The evidence and information needed should be supplied within one calendar month of the date of the request.
Right Benefit Indicator A new performance indicator which measures the number of changes of circumstances which affect customers’ HB/CTB benefit entitlement that are established and processed by the Local Authority in a year. Introduced in April 2008.
Right Time Indicator A new performance indicator which measures the amount of time, on average, it takes the Local Authority to decide a new claim or a change in circumstances. Introduced in April 2008.
Revision A decision which changes a decision that has already been made, based upon circumstances which later prove inaccurate, for whatever reason.
Second Adult Rebate A rebate awarded to a Council Tax payer as compensation for the loss of a Council Tax discount caused by the presence of a second liable person within the property who is on a low income. It is possible for there to be more than one second liable person in the property but this person cannot be the liable person’s partner.
Service Charges Additions made to a contractual rent to cover the provision and use of personal and shared amenities and services. Dependant upon what the charge relates to will determine whether the charge is eligible or ineligible for Housing Benefit.
Statement of Reasons An explanation of a decision made. All claimants have the right to request a statement of reasons within one month of a decision being notified.
Supersession A technical term used to describe a change of circumstances which results a new Housing and / or Council Tax Benefit award. A superseded decision does not go back and alter a decision previously made. It makes a new decision about the conditions of entitlement.
Suspension of Benefit An action by a Local Authority which temporarily stops payments being made. The decision to suspend payments usually occurs as a result of query about whether the claimant still meets the same conditions of entitlement. There are no appeal rights attached to a suspension of benefit.
Taper The percentage by which excess income is apportioned in the decision making process of a benefit claim. The Housing Benefit taper is 65% and the Council Tax Benefit taper is 20%.
Tariff Income This is determined by the amount of capital you have between the minimum and maximum capital thresholds. £1 per week tariff income is added to your actual income for every £250 increment, if you are of working age, or £500 increment, if you are of pension age.
Termination The end of a benefit claim, for whatever reason.
Underlying Entitlement This term relates to an amount of benefit entitlement which offsets a benefit overpayment. Underlying Entitlement can only be awarded if the claimant provides his circumstances within one calendar month of the overpayment being calculated.
Underpayments of Benefit An amount of benefit which the Council owes.
Up-ratings The process by which the Government increases the rates of benefits and applicable amounts at the start of the next financial year.
Verification Framework Government guidance relating to the minimum standards of evidence and information needed to substantiate an award of Housing and Council Tax Benefit.
Withdrawn claims Any claim that the claimant decides they no longer wish to be decided. Claims can only be withdrawn in written and before a decision has been made.
Young Persons Are defined as person between the ages of 16 and 19 years who are in full time education, to whom Child Benefit is still payable in respect of.